Monday, August 29, 2016

Using Tasks in Google Calendar


The older I get, the harder it is for me to remember what's on my to do list, unless I actually have a to do list! I've found a way to keep me on task, as well as a way to keep me from forgetting to do anything. Sticky notes don't work for me, and, well, they seem like a bit of a waste. 
Enter: Tasks on Google Calendar.
My school system is on the Google train, and I'd say it's about time! I've used Google for years, so I've been able to use basic things as I'm learning more about the whole Google Family. 
I'm a visual learner, so I thought would be easier to show you how to use tasks in your Google Calendar:
So...do you think this is a way to help you stay organized and on-task? Any other suggestions?

Friday, August 26, 2016

Looking Ahead: Still Being Flexible!

This week's plans didn't go as planned. I didn't start my 5 Minute Day...hopefully next week! 
There was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Shell was a big hit...as always! I don't know what it is about putting a card in a little plastic trash can, but the kids get such a big kick out of it!
One of my students is working on volume, so he worked on emotions and how they affect volume. We'll continue to work on this next week...practice is still needed!

Amelia Bedelia books (Peggy Parish) are the best for working with humor, multiple meanings, and inferencing, aren't they? As an added bonus, they make the kids laugh, too! I made this sheet for one of my students:
Since I had it on Google Docs, I let him type what Amelia Bedelia did for each task on the iPad.

When he finished, I showed him my laptop & printed it out. He said, "Whoa...it's just like magic!"  He was very impressed!!! The plan next week is to discuss what the phrase really means. I'll put the sheet in a "Write & Wipe Pocket", then let him take it home to redo. (Thanks, Annie for the idea!)
Living near (and in some of my kid's cases...in) the Smoky Mountains, camping is a big deal. I'm going to take some new materials for a spin!
I'm going to use my newly purchased Speech Camp: NO PREP Articulation (Speech is Sweet) at the beginning of the week, because it's only the 3rd week of therapy, and I have been inundated with transfers and referrals! And, if I really do a 5 Minute Day, this will be perfect for the individual center. 
For my students who are working on verbalizing vocabulary or making complete sentences, I've been using Speech Universe's Summer Interactive Books (since it's still summer...yet we're in school!). I've been using "What Do You See", and both of my students will be ready for "I can ___ in the Summer".
For the end of the week, I can't wait to use Sparklle SLP's Camp in Speech and Language Themed Therapy Pack for Mixed Groups. This pack has just about everything I need for my caseload! "wh" questions, an open-ended game for my "game day", directions, comparisons, irregular verbs, sequencing, plus behavior expectations. 
For my students who are transitioning from following directions with manipulatives to paper/pencil tasks, Panda Speech offers Camping Listen Up! Following Directions FREEBIE.
I finally feel like I've got my head above water...for the moment, anyway! I can get next week's paperwork completed and ready to go; that's always a big weight off my shoulders!
What do you have going on in your speech room next week?



Monday, August 22, 2016

Flexibility: It's Our Middle Name!

Even though we're all different, there's one thing we all have to have in common: the ability to be flexible. In our professional lives, there are so many things with which we have to be flexible:

1) Schedules. Not only when we go to pick up our kids and the teacher says the time won't work, but also when we add students to our caseload. 

2) During therapy. When the task is too easy/hard for the student, we're constantly modifying in order to get to that perfect level for him. Or, if a student is absent and you have to change an activity.

3) Speaking of changing activities: When you goof up (like I did) and have an activity planned, but then realize that what you have planned is a month early! For my first week's activity, I mentioned that it was Dot Day on the 15th. Ummm, yeah...it's actually on September 15th, not August. When I got to school last Monday, the art teacher had placed a large circle (dot) in everyone's box...with the date that she wanted it returned. (It wasn't August.) Luckily, I didn't have the dot activity planned for Monday, and, luckily, my friend Mia made a fantastic packet, Ocean Fun Pack. Some of my students used daubers:
And some of them used the roll & cover sheet to use "bump it":
To play "bump it", a student said her target, then rolled the 2 dice. They then put a chip on that number. If the other student rolled the same number, then she would bump the other person's chip off of the shark and put hers on. We would play either until all of the numbers were covered, or time ran out. Whoever had the most chips on the sharks was the winner. 
The whole packet is just adorable! Since I usually start out the year with an ocean theme, it was perfect! 

4) Meetings. When we're in a meeting and our goals for the student aren't exactly the same as the parents' ideas, we have to be flexible enough to take their goals into consideration. We are the experts, but they're the parents. Hopefully you can meet somewhere in the middle.

Can you think of some other ways we have to be flexible? 

Sunday, August 21, 2016

The Frenzied SLPs Best Year Ever Bonus Sale and Tips from the Trade {Linky}

TpT is helping us be better prepared by having a BONUS site-wide sale on Monday, 22 August! It's a last chance to get some added savings to make therapy interesting for our students.

Over the summer, I bundled my non-competitive games. Since I do monthly themes in my speech room that are centered around seasons and holidays, each packet includes a game specifically for the season, as well as games for the holidays within that season.

I've said this time & time again: My kids LOVE these games! I use them when I have groups, as well as with my students whom I see individually. Since the games are non-competitive, they win or lose together. 
Each game comes with a very short story to introduce the game. I use these games with artic and language students. Just have them produce their target and then choose a card. (I use a tissue box for the cards.)
I've used the games for an independent activity during 5 Minutes Days, too. The great thing about these games is that the student doesn't have to play with another student, they can play against themselves to win or lose!
If bought separately, the games would be $16; the bundle is regularly priced at $12. However, if you buy it on Monday, you get a whale of a deal: It will be priced at $8.64! Don't forget to use the code "oneday"!
AND, don't forget to leave feedback on former purchases for even more savings!
To purchase, click on the image below:
Team Games Seasonal Bundle
Do you have a product you want to highlight for the sale? Join us by writing a blogpost or a Facebook status and link up with us!


Friday, August 19, 2016

Looking Ahead: Getting in the Routine

I've finished the first week of therapy. I've probed all of my students and have a pretty good idea of where they are. I have about 6 students who are ready for dismissal, and about 6 more that I found through screenings to evaluate. It's a revolving door, for sure!

After last week's debacle with planning (you can read more about it on Tuesday), we'll see how smoothly this coming week goes! 

Since it technically is still summer, I'm centering therapy around There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Shell (Lucille Colandro). I have a couple of different book companions that I can pull from to meet the needs of everyone on my caseload.

While I'm reading the story at the beginning of the week, the students have to feed the old lady the vocabulary cards! Both companions that I will be pulling from have sequence activities, which will be perfect for my students who are working on sequencing and retelling stories. Simply Speech's packet includes a blackline sequencing so the students can take it home and retell the story to their parents. She also has a simple following directions activity for my students who are working on that skill. In addition, there is a "Story Scavenger Hunt"; my students will find words in the story that have their sounds and write them on the lines. Perfect for the first 5-minute day of the year! 
The Interactive Book Attachments (Speechy Musings) that can be used for all of the "old lady" books are going to work great with my students working on saying complete sentences. 

For the "game day" section of the week, Crazy Speech World's packet includes an open-ended game. Since I have a few students working on story elements, the Retelling Art will be fun for those students.

I used this book a couple of years ago, but some of the activities in the packets that I'm using next week weren't used because of my caseload. I won't hear any of my current students say that they've done the activity before since I rotate books (and activities) year-to-year. 

Monday, August 15, 2016

Dear Principals: What We'd Like You to Know

There are some years that are easier than others, just like there are some years that are frustrating. Some of the frustration has to do with how we, as professionals, are treated by our principals. Maybe they just don't quite understand our position in their schools. I have enlisted the help of other SLPs throughout the country to come up with a few things that may help out principals when they're scratching their heads, not knowing what to do with us.

1) I'm busy...you're busy. Emails are the best way to communicate; I can quickly check emails between groups or at the beginning/end of the day. Basically, whenever I have a moment, I can check them. I will respond to your emails as soon as I can, and would greatly appreciate you responding to my emails in return.

2) While we're on the subject of emails, please remember to include me in your emails. I am a member of your faculty and want to be included with my peers. I don't want to be an after-thought by being included with non-certified personnel as a cc.

3) Please watch your familiarity with me. While I may be your friend outside of school, when we are at school, you are my principal, not my friend. Referring to me (either through emails or verbally) using what you perceive to be an endearment, is, in fact, demeaning to me and gives me the impression that you do not value me as a professional.

4) When we are in a meeting and you do not agree with my recommendations, please ask to see me in the hallway. It is important that the parent has confidence in his/her child's educational team. If the meeting is not clear-cut, I will speak with you prior to the meeting (or have a pre-meeting to discuss recommendations with the school team)to make sure the meeting runs smoothly.

5) My time is valuable, as is yours. If you have a faculty member who requires some "redirection", please talk to that individual. The whole faculty does not have to be addressed, and, the chances are, that individual won't think it's him/her that is guilty of the infraction.

6) My job is important. You may think that all I do is play games with students and work on speech sounds, but my responsibilities encompass so much more. I am an integral part in giving students the necessary language skills for literacy. I know a thing or two about a child's development as well as necessary skills for educational success. I know how to give a child who stutters the confidence and the skills to answer out loud in class and to give an oral book report. 

7) Lastly, if you see me in the hallway, I'd love it if you would acknowledge me. I don't need to feel more important than anyone else, but I do need to know that if I need to come to you with an issue, you'll be available to me. I won't come to you with every little thing, but it is your building and you need to be aware when issues come up. Just acknowledging me with a "hello" or even just a smile & head nod will help me feel comfortable enough to knock on your door and have a professional talk. 

If you're a principal and you're reading this: thank you. If you, as a principal, are able to look at each of these items and know that you are doing these things: thank you! If you can't check off these items, hopefully I have given you something to think about. As Speech Language Pathologists, we have all gone through a strenuous Master's Program. We are specialists, just as the literacy leader and psychologist are specialists. 

We all want to be treated as the professionals that we are. We want to be respected...we want to be part of the team.


Friday, August 12, 2016

Looking Ahead: First Full Week of Therapy and a Couple of Freebies!


Next week will be my first full week of therapy. I like to "slide into" planning; nothing too strenuous for the first couple of weeks!
For Monday & Tuesday, my students will review my procedures and take a look at the new reinforcement board in the room.
We'll discuss their goals and why they come to speech. We'll also discuss where they are with their progress; what they can do. My younger ones will have a copy with a picture to color:
My older ones will have the option of having a paper with or without the picture.
You can grab a copy for yourself here

Raise your hand if you knew that the 15th is International Dot Day. If you didn't raise your hand, don't feel bad. I didn't know there was such a thing until our art teacher sent an email about it. I told her SLPs are all about dots & paint daubers! She is centering activities around the book The Dot (Creatrilogy) by Peter H. Reynolds. There are so many goals you can target with this book! 
I use the first "real" day of therapy for checking to see where my students are after the summer break. For my artic students, I usually use the S-Cat. In keeping with the dot theme, the students will use paint daubers to fill in this sheet:
(Easel graphic from My Cute Graphics)
To download, click here.

My schedule is set, screenings are (mostly) done, so I guess I'm all ready! Wish me luck!

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Another Scheduling Post

(Picture courtesy of picjumbo)
This is the time of year when readers are going to see a lot of blog posts about scheduling. It can get confusing, and may have you second-guessing whether or not the way you schedule your students is the best. 

How do you decide? The answer may be just as confusing, because there really is no answer. You have to figure out what way works for you. The 2 best ways that I've found are:

1) Give the teachers a grid with the available times and have them place a 1, 2, and 3 in the time slot that indicates the 3 best times for their students to be out of the room. The SLPs in my system who are using this are trying out google forms this year to alleviate the paper useage. 
2) Give the teachers a grid with the available times and have them "x" out the times that the students are not available. 
There isn't 1 way that's fool-proof. I've tried it both ways, and #2 works better for me right now. Even as I say that, I'm having a bit of frustration this year due to added "unstructured" and "structured" recess requirements. I'm getting forms back with the teachers writing their schedules in the spaces, even after I've made it clear I only want an "x" placed in the times. I don't want to know what their schedules are; I only want to know when I can schedule the students. I stand by what I've been saying for years: The teachers are the ones who know when it's okay for their students to be out of the room. I can't make that determination, and I don't want to have that responsibility.

If you're a new SLP just starting out, don't be scared of scheduling. It may take you a few years of trying different ways to schedule. You may have to take a few ideas, mix them up, and come up with your own way to do it. What works for me may not work for you. There's no easy answer, unfortunately. It's going to take trial and error, and your own creativity. And when you find it, let me know; I'm always looking for better, easier ways to schedule!

Monday, August 8, 2016

How Much Say Does ASHA Really Have?

(Picture courtesy of  picjumbo)
Does anyone else get a tad bit frustrated when reading forums? There are times I just want to yell "CHECK  YOUR STATE'S GUIDELINES!" Admit it...I'm not alone!
How much say does ASHA really have with our rules & regulations? Ultimately, it is your individual state's' responsibility to provide with the guidance needed. ASHA's guidelines appear (to me, anyway) to be suggestions for each state. ASHA does an excellent job of giving us recommendations, and, for the most part, the states seem to use those to make their rules & regs. 

For example, Caseload/Workload. ASHA has specific directions in figuring out workload, but are very quick to point out that each state and district has their own guidelines. They also have Eligibility and Dismissal Criteria suggestions. A quick look at those suggestions, and I see a glaring contradiction between ASHA & my state's guidelines right away: the use of the terms "academic achievement", and, as used in my state's guidelines,  "educational performance" (which includes academic, social, emotional, and vocational). To make things just a little confusing, ASHA also included the U.S. Dept. of Ed.'s stance on educational performance(which goes right along with my state's guidelines).

ASHA has given us the means to advocate for ourselves, which we all should be doing. In comparison with teachers, we are a relatively small group, and many of the people who set our guidelines aren't aware of just what all we do. I don't know this for a fact, but I suspect that those who are setting our state guidelines (and making the final decisions) aren't practicing in the schools and haven't for a while. 

We need to be heard. How can we do that? 

1. Get involved with your state organization and advocate for yourself with your LEA. 
2. Give a presentation to your school board. There are strength in numbers, so recruit the other SLPs in your school system to help out.
3. Did you know that every state has a State Education Advocacy Leader (SEALS)? You can find yours here. Get in touch with them and see what the hot topics are in your state. You may be able to tell your SEAL your concerns and get the ball rolling.

Most of the SLPs I know have strong personalities; so why are we shy about getting up in front of an audience and speaking about our passion? Are we afraid there will be questions we can't answer? The way to avoid that is to give a well thought-out presentation and take the time to research. Think about questions that a person who has no idea what we do may ask you. Use your spouse or a family member who may not know exactly what you do as a "dummy audience" and see what questions they have. Refer back to ASHA. Fortunately, they have done a lot of the legwork for us. The information is out there; look for it!

To answer the question "How much say does ASHA really have?", the short answer is "directly...not much"; the longer answer: "indirectly: quite a bit"! It's good to know ASHA's view on different situations. Going to your administrator and complaining that you're being asked to do something that goes against ASHA isn't going to get you very far. It's the state's decision whether or not to implement ASHA's suggestions. If there are things that need to be modified in your state, start with your local school system/district, and work your way up from there. And bring some friends with you along the way!

Monday, August 1, 2016

Steps for a Good Year

(Picture courtesy of picjumbo)
Time for another school year! Are you excited, or you just kind of "eh"? If I'm being honest, I have to say I'm just kind of "eh" this year. It's time to get focused and get down to business. It's time to take steps before the first week of school to be productive!

Step 1: Get my room put back together. Put things on the wall, rearrange the furniture, and get my computer set back up. I hit a HUGE snafu with one of my printers. After googling & troubleshooting, I think I have it working correctly.


Step 2: Distribute IEP at a Glance forms to the teachers and have them sign the current IEP to indicate that they have received them. It was a bit harder to chase my teachers down at one of my schools, but...mission accomplished! Suggestions for a better way to do this are greatly appreciated!


Step 3: Obtain class lists. It may seem that this step should go first, but I usually walk around the school with the IEP at a Glance forms and the page on the IEP that the teachers sign. This gives me a chance to get out of my room and talk with each teacher individually. 


Step 4: Rechecks. I've made a copy of the class lists, so I fill in the recheck form with the students' teachers. I also get the rescreen forms ready so all I have to do is grab the forms & the pictures ready. I'll start these on Monday afternoon...the first day! {{gulp!}}

Step 5: Kindergarten screens. I talked about whether or not Kindergarten Mass Screenings are beneficial in this post.  The Kinders in my school system start on a staggered schedule, meaning that they aren't all there at the same time for a few weeks. And, they are only there for 1/2 days. That schedule allows me to screen those students while they are here; then I have the afternoons for rechecks in the other grades, paperwork, scheduling, and anything else that needs to be done before therapy begins.

What steps do you take before therapy starts? 
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